The majority of actresses nominated this year have one big thing in common: they’ve been nominated before.
The array of talent is truly amazing. Every actress in the supporting category has been nominated in the past. Two of them have won Academy Awards in the lead category. Three of those nominated for leading actress have been down the red carpet before, two for supporting and one for lead. The other two in leading roles are up for the award for the first time – and they just happen to be the youngest and the oldest nominees in that category in Oscar history.
Jessica Chastain  (Zero Dark Thirty) – After appearing in various TV series, Chastain began making her mark in feature films, going from one high profile role to another, in movies such as The Debt and The Tree of Life. Playing Celia Foote in The Help earned her a Supporting Actress nomination. Zero Dark Thirty, focusing on the search for Osama bin Laden, gave her the role of CIA operative Maya – and her work gave her a Leading Actress nomination.
Jennifer Lawrence  (Silver Linings Playbook) – I first saw Lawrence on The Bill Engvall Show, playing the comedian’s daughter. When that series ended, I next heard that she was starring in the movie Winter’s Bone as Ree, a young woman desperate to find her missing father. For that role, Lawrence earned her first Leading Actress nod. Her performance in the romantic comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook has brought high praise and her second chance at the Oscar.
Emmanuelle Riva  (Amour) – Riva has been a part of the French film industry since the 1950s and came to international attention with Hiroshima, Mon Amour. But as Anne in the movie Amour, Riva has given an honest, heartfelt performance as an elderly woman losing identity and independence. Last week she won the BAFTA award for this film.
Quvenzhané Wallis  (Beasts of the Southern Wild) – “When I die, the scientists of the future, they're gonna find it all. They gonna know, once there was a Hushpuppy, and she live with her daddy in the Bathtub.” With those words, young Wallis assured her place in movie history – and in our hearts. The movie tells of a little girl living in harsh circumstances and how her father tries to prepare her for life. Though only six-years-old when filming started, Wallis’s innate talent brought her notice and a Leading Actress nomination.
Naomi Watts  (The Impossible) – Watts assured her place in Hollywood in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. But it was her role in 21 Grams that earned her an Oscar nomination in the Supporting Actress category. She’s been busy in movies ever since, breaking King Kong’s heart, standing by her boss J. Edgar Hoover, and making us laugh in I Heart Huckabees. For her performance in The Impossible as a mother desperate to survive and reunite with her family after a natural disaster, Watts has received an Oscar nomination for Lead Actress.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams  (The Master) – Adams delighted us in Junebug. She amazed us in Doubt and The Fighter. And she received Oscar nods for all three. Although known more for comedies such as Enchanted and The Muppets, Adams is also great in drama. In The Master, she plays the wife of a man who leads a philosophical movement and receives her fourth Supporting Actress nomination.
Sally Field  (Lincoln) – We all know Sally Field. Many of us grew up with her. From Gidget and The Flying Nun, Field grew into an actress equally strong in comedy and drama. With two Academy Awards in leading roles on her mantel, for Norma Rae and Places in the Heart, Field now has a chance at a third Oscar for her role as First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
Anne Hathaway  (Les Misérables) – Because of her comedies such as The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, we sometimes forget that Hathaway has also given us dramatic performances in Brokeback Mountain and Rachel Getting Married, the latter earning her a nod for Leading Actress. And now she has moved on to musical drama as Fantine in Les Misérables. This role has brought her a second Academy Award nomination.
Helen Hunt  (The Sessions) – As with Sally Field, many of us have known Helen Hunt for years. Some of us even remember her as a teenager on various TV series. Hunt began collecting Emmys for Mad About You, then moved into movies where she won the Leading Actress Oscar for As Good as It Gets. Her second nomination comes in the Supporting Actress category for her role as a sexual surrogate in The Sessions.
Jacki Weaver  (Silver Linings Playbook) – Weaver began her career in her native Australia, on TV and in movies such as Picnic at Hanging Rock. In America, she wasn’t as well known until Animal Kingdom truly brought her to Hollywood’s attention. For her role as matriarch of a criminal family in Animal Kingdom, Weaver garnered a Supporting Actress nomination. Silver Linings Playbook, in which she plays the mother of a bipolar son, has given her a second chance at the Oscar.
So who do you think will win? Who is your favorite, whether or not the odds are with them?